Perceived family economic hardship and student engagement among junior high schoolers in Ghana

David Ansong, Moses Okumu, Eric R. Hamilton, Gina A. Chowa, Sarah R. Eisensmith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research has shown that several factors influence student engagement, but little is known about the predictive role of family economic hardships on student engagement, particularly in the sub-Saharan African context. This study used data from junior high school students in Ghana to examine the association between perceived family economic hardship and students' classroom engagement, and the intervening role of future intentions. The structural equation modeling results indicate that perceived economic hardship is associated with behavioral engagement in school in two ways. The first is the direct positive link from perceived economic hardship to engagement (i.e., the motivational pathway). The second is a more nuanced channel whereby perceived economic difficulties are negatively associated with students' participation in academic work, but only through the inconsistent mediating (suppression) role of students' future intentions (i.e., the demoralizing pathway). The nuanced psychological and behavioral outcomes suggest the need for programs that cultivate educational resilience among young people.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-18
Number of pages10
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
StatePublished - Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescents
  • Behavioral engagement
  • Future intentions
  • Perceived family economic hardship
  • Structural equation modeling
  • Sub-Saharan Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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